Happy happy New Year to you.  Most people that I talk to are glad to send 2016 packing… I don’t think I have ever seen so many memes about a year the way that we have about 2016, either.  On some level, it’s sort of nice to know that we have all been in the same boat this past year.

2016 was the year of my highest highs and my lowest lows, which was really difficult to navigate.  Everything really began on New Year’s Eve of 2015 when my Gramma ended up in the hospital, and things just kind of fell apart after that.  We trudged through until April, and then I lost one of the most influential and important people in my life; a woman who helped raise me and shape me, understood me and loved me in the most tender, selfless, and hilarious way.

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I was blindsided.  We all were.  And then a few short weeks later, my husband’s Grandmom passed.  It was a heavy time for our two families.  And coming back to reality after all of that loss, as the world sort of expects you to become a part of it again, to show up every day just like everyone else — that, for me, was the hardest part.  There was a part of me that didn’t want to join the world.  If I joined the world, that would mean that she was really gone, wouldn’t it?

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 A couple of months later, in the heart of June, I was spent.  I think we all were.  Greyson and I had a getaway in Flagstaff and then spent some time in California with his family.  Most of our days were in the company of the beach and each other, and one of the days we went to Universal Studios, just the two of us, and had the best time.  I felt like I could breathe again.  But once we got home and the distractions were gone, I felt all of that pain and sadness work its way back into my heart again.  I missed my Gramma so much, and I longed for her, longed to talk with her and have her hug me and pat my back the way she always did.

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Our hearts opened even wider by loving on this sweet soul.  We feel more connected than ever to him, reaching for him and having him reach for us when we need one another.  He took to sleeping with us every night, wedged between us.  We have a family bed and we love it.  We wouldn’t want it any other way.  This baby of ours has brought us laughter and light and comfort when we needed it most.

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2016 was a strengthening year for our marriage.  I needed more than I have ever needed, and Grey showed up every day to love me, remind me of my magic, find me in my sadness, and love me right there, in my most vulnerable moments.  This was a year of growth for us.  I look back on when I married him and I know that I loved him more than I had ever loved him then; but the way that I love him now is deeper, with more passion and it is so full.  2016 could have been different for our marriage, but it made our roots intertwine and grow deep in the ground.

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 2016 was the year we lost Zoe… the friend I had through my teen years at my parents’ house.  A big dog, the kind you can lay on and snuggle with.  It was hard to lose this friend.  She was special, and she was so, so kind.  She was tender and loving.  I miss her.

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And a few weeks later, our family was blessed with Charlie, the biggest lap dog we have ever had.  He is smart and sweet, and he pretty much lives for his squeaky ball.  He speaks, and he dances, he shakes, and he lays down.  He loves walks.  He can make friends with any human or dog.  All he wants is love.  He is the perfect example of how we should all show each other that all we want is love from one another.

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 We did what felt insurmountable in 2016…we bought our first home.  We set a huge financial goal that seemed impossible, but with the help of our families, we made it possible.  Along with this amazing blessing was the equally amazing sadness that came with it, wanting my Gramma to see this happen for us and to come to our house, and knowing that she couldn’t.  Waffling between happiness and sadness, and feeling frustrated with myself for feeling sad, a Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?! feeling — this was hard.  But mostly happy.  Mostly feeling grateful and knowing that she is with me, in this house, filling it with her love.

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The big news of 2016 is that Kuma got a yard.  🙂  Watching him explore each day and seeing his excitement when he goes outside is pretty much the best thing ever.

And so, on New Year’s Day, Greyson was at work and I found a photo of myself that made me smile.

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 I was struck by the joy on my face.  It’s nothing spectacular that I am holding, just a cupcake.  But that cupcake is making me so happy.  It’s just a little thing.  This is what I want for myself in 2017.  Joy in the little things.  2016 beat me up and I lost my joy.  I lost the ability to find it in all the little things.  And so I am entering 2017 with the willingness and prayer that I experience moments like this, that I create moments like this for myself; that I have crumbs on my shirt, messy hair, and a small gap in my teeth and I just don’t care — because the little things are making me happy.  Finding joy in the small things is a habit that has to be fostered and it is what creates an existence of gratitude.  I’m not going into 2017 with any resolutions or restrictions; only with the hope and determination to find the joy.

I hope that this year, you find joy, too.

Happy New Year!

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